This short, family-friendly hike offers a glimpse at Joshua Tree National Park history while also providing some up-close views of some interesting geology and wide-ranging vistas. If you are on your way to Ryan Mountain, Skull Rock or Desert Queen Mine, allow a little extra time to stretch your legs and enjoy this excursion.
Ryan Ranch is the former homestead of the Ryan family, who worked the mines and raised cattle here in the early 20th century. The adobe structure has long been abandoned and reclaimed by nature and its ruins in the middle of the vast desert make for a striking sight. Depending on the angles, photos taken here can have a surreal, almost Salvador Dali-esque quality.
Follow the dirt road south from Park Blvd. with the large shape of Ryan Mountain looming to the left. You pass by large, towering clusters of boulders on both sides, popular with climbers and the homestead site soon comes into view. The trail becomes ambiguous about half a mile from the beginning, but it’s easy to find and reach the ruins of a smaller structure and then the main house. Sadly, like some of Joshua Tree’s more accessible sites, the Ryan Ranch buildings have been defaced. Thankfully, awareness of vandalism in the park is increasing and with the recent arrest of taggers who hit Barker Dam, word will continue to spread.
Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.